When you first meet someone at a party, and his handshake is kind of limp-fish-y, you know that you're never going to forget that. He's always going to be "limp-fish handshake guy."
If the first time you meet someone in the office is when she is standing next to a cubicle wall gossiping about another co-worker, you're going to assume that she's always going to be gossiping.
And when the first time you see an actor is when he's Harry Potter, you're probably always going to think of him as Harry Potter. Until he performs in Equus on the West End in London, then transfers to Broadway with the production after he comes of age enough that the show doesn't get shut down for child pornography. One stint on stage as the crazy naked kid blinding horses, and suddenly he may look like Harry Potter, but you know there's another side to him.
Then there's Keanu Reeves. Unfortunately - for all of us - he will always be that spaced-out dude from the Bill and Ted movies. Or the surfer cop from Point Break. I mean, even in the Matrix movies, he still had that same kind of speech pattern going on. I absolutely love the movie Speed, and I don't think he says "Whoa" at all in it, but for some reason that didn't break the spell.
So tonight, when I went to see 47 Ronin (which is based on the true story of 47 warriors who defeated an army in Japan - a "ronin" is a samurai without a master), and I watched him on screen, I was of two minds.
On the one hand, I thought he was quite good. The movie is gorgeous to look at, with effects that a lot of movies try really hard to get, but only end up looking like they tried really hard. In this, the effects are gorgeous (as are the costumes), and it all seems kind of effortless.
Many of the actors - I'm guessing - may not be native English speakers, and they have strong accents which make the dialogue a little hard to understand at times, but at no point is the movie hard to follow. It's a pretty straightforward piece, really. Even one of the kids in the family seated at the front of theater was able to figure out "This is where the action part of the movie starts" (which was okay, since we were at the Cinema Grill, and you just don't expect quite the same level of quiet as you do in a regular theater when your waiter keeps coming in and out to check on you as you munch on waffle fries).
I went to the movie with low expectations, and it was definitely better than I expected. But, even so, when we got to the end, my not-a-date date (oh... yeah... the waitress said, as she walked away early on "You're really picking on her - this must be a date!" and we LAUGHED...) turned to me and said "He never once said 'whoa.' I was paying close attention."
And we were back to that angle of Keanu. I mean... we'd just seen him doing all sorts of cool stuff in Japan in amazing clothing. He really doesn't even look like the same person any more. His body shape is different, his face is different. There's nothing about his look that says "I'm the surfer dude." But, still, you expect the "whoa." For better or worse.
What I definitely will say, though, is that the next time he shows up in a movie I'm going to expect that a lot less. Granted, he didn't blind any horses in this, but maybe - for me at least - he finally found his Equus.
Overall score: I totally give it a B+, dude. (Sorry. Had to.) Honestly, it was gorgeous to look at, some very cool effects and all, but there were a few moments that were supposed to be emotional that fell flat. And a few emotional moments that worked, but not well enough. Definitely either a big screen or Blu-ray/HDTV kind of show, though, if you can.